Opposing views: Bradford (H)

Opposing views: Bradford (H)

We have the views of Bradford City fan 1976bantam ahead of their game against the Valiants this weekend. It’s one of the most in-depth opposing views we’ve received this season…

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About the fan

I’ve been following Bradford City since 1986, my first game was a 3-2 win over Sunderland. I stood on the Kop and I can vaguely remember Ron Futcher scoring at the Bradford End!

He posts on the Claret & Banter website.

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How is your team faring this season?

Until very recently, the team were probably performing above what many of us were expecting…

Until very recently, the team were probably performing above what many of us were expecting. Fans weren’t sure about the size/quality of the squad at the start of the season and many on our forum were thinking mid-table at best.

We were actually sat mid-table until going on an excellent ten match unbeaten run following the 2-1 win at Halifax in the FA Cup in early November. It took in great away wins at Preston, Fleetwood and Chesterfield among others. We moved up into the play-off positions as a result. It should probably have been ten straight wins in that run, both of the draws (against Scunthorpe and Gillingham) saw our opponents score injury-time equalisers.

That all got brought to a halt by the 2-1 home defeat to Rochdale in early January which was probably our most undeserved loss this season. Despite having ten men for 80 minutes. Rochdale won the game with yet another stoppage time goal. We followed that up by battering Millwall in the cup replay, but then lost 1-0 at Yeovil with an awful display.

In the last couple of weeks we’ve had our well-publicised win at Chelsea, which was probably one of City’s best ever displays, before playing out an “after the Lord Mayor’s Show” very tame draw versus Colchester with a late equaliser from Morais.

Where do you think you’ll finish?

I think we’ll finish where we currently sit, eighth. There are lots of teams who currently have a shot at the last two play off positions and I feel we’re too inconsistent overall to make it in. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, mind!

Who should we watch out for?

In terms of who to look out for, I’d have to say Jon Stead…

In terms of who to look out for, I’d have to say Jon Stead who is on loan to us from Huddersfield.

He’s quite simply been a revelation since coming back to us (we had him on loan late last season as well). You could say the win at Chelsea was primarily down to him (he scored one and created two more) and I’d like to see him signed permanently if funds permit, it would mean a wage cut for him though.

Felipe Morais has also been getting better and better out on the right, he signed a permanent deal recently. One other – Jordan Pickford in goal, who is a season loan from Sunderland. He had a very nervy start to the season but has developed really well.

What are your thoughts on your manager?

Phil Parkinson can do no wrong at the moment…

Phil Parkinson can do no wrong at the moment.

He has been responsible for some of our club’s greatest ever moments with the League Cup final/League Two promotion double and of course the recent FA Cup win at Chelsea. We also managed our first win over Leeds for approaching thirty years this season.

He certainly drew a large amount of criticism during our long winless streak last season (which was ended with a last minute win over Vale), with several calling for his head, but thankfully the club kept faith.

His record on signings is variable and many would point to the signing of Aaron McLean a year ago, on big wages, as the replacement for Nahki Wells as evidence that he often gets it wrong. If we don’t make it up this season, assuming we can get McLean off the books I would like to see what he can do with some decent funds as much of what he’s achieved so far has been done on a relatively small budget.

What are your thoughts on your board?

Off the field, the Board will point to the fact that we are one of the few Football League clubs in the black. Fans though would like to see the manager provided with a budget that could see us get the few players in that many feel would see us get promoted, even if that means a decent hike in our season ticket prices to fund it.

Our fans actually regularly joke about our finances, as the Board continually talk about potential deficits despite making a ton of cash from recent TV games, cup runs and so on. Parkinson actually referenced budget in a post-match interview yesterday, but in reference to the pitch needing investment because it is currently in an awful state.

Mark Lawn as co-chairman divides opinion as he wears his heart on his sleeve, Julian Rhodes is the quieter of the two.

We have a new ‘acting’ Chief Operating Officer in James Mason, who has so far come up with one very good marketing campaign to get more people along to the Millwall replay – but then did not cover himself in glory with ticketing arrangements for the Chelsea game, which were borderline farcical. The fact he didn’t apologise afterwards, despite clear mistakes on the club’s part, has angered many.

Any views on Port Vale?

I’m not surprised to see Vale mid-table, as that is where I thought you might be at the start of the season. Adams leaving in September was what your fans wanted by the sound of things and Page appears to be doing an OK job as things stand in his first managerial post, albeit consistency looks like it’s an issue going from your recent form.

Going from news items I’ve seen, it appears off the field that in Smurthwaite you have a similar character to Mark Lawn in that he appears happy to say what he thinks in public.

It seems strange to me that a Coventry fan (according to the papers) would invest in Vale rather than the club he supports, though I presume their SISU situation put him off?

In terms of your players, it’s fair to say many of us would have taken O’Connor when Rotherham released him and I certainly would have liked to have seen us take a punt. Tom Pope seems to particularly like playing against us and is someone our fans have certainly admired, though perhaps not as much recently. We were also apparently interested in Lines before you took him from Wednesday and I see he’s been a regular starter.

Any views on players involved with both sides?

I think he’s a good player and certainly earned himself plenty of credit from City fans for scoring against Leeds!

In terms of players who have turned out for both clubs, my memory immediately jumps to Lee Mills. He did well enough for you of course but many of us initially thought “who” when we got him from you. He then went on to form an absolutely brilliant partnership with Robbie Blake, which ultimately got us promoted to the Premier League. Mills scored some vital goals that season, in particular one at Wolves on the final day of the season. Unsurprisingly he had less of an impact in the Premier League, where the standard was probably too high for him.

More recently of course, there is Billy Knott – League One forum comments in the summer suggested Vale fans were keen to keep him and like Mills we didn’t know much about him when he joined us. He certainly has his good days and bad days and has moved to the bench occasionally, but I think he’s a good player and certainly earned himself plenty of credit from City fans for scoring against Leeds!

In terms of management, Lee Sinnott was a really solid player for us back in the late 80’s/early 90’s and I saw a few Farsley Celtic games when he was manager as they were my local side at the time. However, it’s probably fair to say his subsequent tenure at Vale won’t be fondly remembered by your fans!

A score prediction?

We are certainly much better away from home this season, with six away wins compared to four at Valley Parade. The win at Chelsea showed the sort of football we can play when we put our mind to it. Recent away form has been good bar the Yeovil game, which you could put down to the player’s minds being on the Chelsea game if you were that way inclined (not me though, just an example for me of how we struggle against certain teams – Yeovil beat us at home too).

I see Williamson went off injured versus Barnsley and Pope also got a knock on his comeback from injury. With perhaps two of your most dangerous players not featuring, I’ll stick my neck out and say City will win 2-0. Stead and Morais with the goals, with both players in good form.